Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hacked off, but...

This is rather important. Transcript of yesterday's DCMS hearing here, and a key bit from Tom Crone's evidence:
Crone: Well I explained the For-Neville email for him [James Murdoch] yes…What I explained to him, and I can’t give it in clear accurate detail because I can’t remember, but there was only one reason we settled the Taylor litigation, and there was one reason therefore why we went to him to settle the Taylor litigation, and that was the emergence of a document which consisted of an email transcript sent by one of our junior reporters to Glen Mulclaire, and that transcript consisted of voicemail messages left to and by Gordon Taylor.

Watson: So he would have been aware that another member of staff had transcribed intercepted voicemail messages.

Crone: I explained the email to him,yes.

Watson: Did he then apply the company’s zero tolerance to wrongdoing policy and suspend that staff member?

Crone: No.

Watson: So here’s someone that you know has intercepted a transcript message of an illegally hacked phone by the criminal private investigator Glen Mulcaire… And none of you do anything about it? Including James Murdoch.

Crone: The document wasn’t evidence that the junior reporter had intercepted phone calls, but that he had transcribed, presumably from a tape or a disc, a number of voicemail messages. Therefore, what the evidence meant was that Mulclaire’s illegal activity in accessing Gordon Taylor’s voicemail messages, that evidence of that had passed through our office. The News of the World was implicated certainly by knowledge that Glenn Mulcaire had done that.

Watson: That others were aware of phone hacking other than Clive Goodman?

Crone: Yes

Watson: Nobody did anything?

Crone: (Shakes head to suggest no)

Watson: What did James Murdoch say when you put that to him?

Crone: I can’t remember

Watson: You remember telling him that was the case but you can’t remember what his reply was.

Crone: I would have explained the background of the litigation, I would have explained the stance we had taken up to the emergence of this document, and I would have explained what this document was and what it meant.

Watson: Why did he agree to settle?

Crone: That was the advice he was certainly getting from me and from the outside lawyers….

Watson: Why did he agree to settle for so much money?

Crone: In order to get out of a case.

Watson: Isn’t it the case that he was well aware that you would buy the silence of Gordon Taylor if you settled for £425,000?

Crone: The priority at that time was to settle this case, get rid of it, contain the situation as far as four other potential litigants are concerned and get on with our business.

Watson: He knew full well to settle for that amount of money would conceal the For-Neville email.

Crone: We couldn’t reveal the For-Neville email, because it had been given to us under very, very strict terms of confidentiality, imposed almost certainly by Mr Taylor and, I think, the Metropolitain Police. And there’s nothing covered up, [speaking over Watson] can I make something clear which seams to be missed, very regularly, possibly by this committee, and that is that the provenance of the document was the Metropolitan Police. It was a Metropolitan Police document, coming out of their files. How can we be accused of covering up something that has reached us through the police?

Watson: Are you aware that the previous legal guy from the company, Mr Chapman, said that in any case a confidentiality clause wouldn’t stand up…in a criminal investigation, so how could Taylor force you to a clause of confidentiality on an email that suggesting more criminal wrongdoing. You must have known that, you’re a lawyer yourself?

Crone: …What confuses me here is that you seem to be missing what I just said, this document came from the police. Its not as if it hasn’t been looked at, considered. Experts paid close attention to it in the appropriate area, which is the police force of this country.

Watson: The police will have questions to answer as well. But it is the case that you knew that if a crime had been committed Taylor’s lawyers could not hold you to a confidentiality clause, you knew that didn’t you? You’re a media lawyer, you’re a barrister.

Crone: Well, there’s a confidentiality clause agreed by both sides in a piece of civil litigation and normally that would mean to stick to the confidentiality clause I’m afraid, that’s what’s called straight dealing.

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